Proposals to ‘auction off’ UK visas
13 January 2014
Based on concerns that current UK investor visas are not sufficiently working towards supporting the UK’s economy, new government proposals suggest that visas could be auctioned off or sold to foreign millionaires or offered in exchange for investment in hospitals, schools and universities.
At present, overseas investors can secure residence for themselves and their families in the UK for two to five years by making investments of £1 million, £5 million or £10 million in gilts, government bonds or British businesses. Once allowed residence, the investor can apply for citizenship and even sell the gilts, meaning that the investment works more like a loan, rather than an investment in the UK’s economy. A total of 530 investor visas were approved under this scheme in the year to the second quarter of 2013.
Under these new proposals, a number of investor visas would be auctioned off. A second option would allow wealthy overseas residents to invest in the UK’s universities, schools and hospitals in exchange for citizenship.
Professor Sir David Metcalf, Chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, was quoted in The Times as saying "it may very well be that we should be auctioning some of these slots…Equally it may very well be that we should be letting people in if they endow a Cambridge college, a major teaching hospital or the London School of Economics with £10 million."
Immigration advisors are currently compiling these proposals into a report, which will be published next month.